Friday, February 8, 1985
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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Chief Rabbi Stirs Debates
I KNIT FAST
with the electronic
BY MAURICE SAMUELSON
Special to The Jewish News
London (JTA) — Since becom-
ing Britain's chief rabbi on the e v e
of the Six-Day War, Sir Immanuel
Jakobovits has frequently
aroused widespread controversy
by his remarks on aspects of Is-
raeli policies and social trends.
Although he has frequently ex-
pressed Anglo-Jewry's staunch
solidarity with Israel, some of his
views have earned widespread
criticism. While defenders of em-
battled Israel have accused him of
treason, others have hailedhim as
the true defender of Israeli inter-
Jakobovits has now attempted
to explain himself in a book about
his attitudes towards Zionism and
Israel. Its title, If Only My People
is taken from Psalm 18 which
says: "If only my people would
hearken unto me and Israel walk
in my ways, I would soon subdue
their enemies and turn my hand
against their adversaries."
The book is unlikely to make
Jakobovits' reputation any less
controversial. It also reflects the
extent to which the Middle East
has overshadowed Jewish and in-
ternational life during
Jakobovits' rabbinical career. It
was far less prominent during the
ministry of his two distinguished
predecessors; Dr. Joseph Hertz
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and Sir Israel Brodie, chief rabbis
from 1913 to 1946 and from 1948
to 1965, respectively.
As Jakobovits frequently points
out, neither of these two chief
rabbis referred to Zionism in their
inaugural addresses and he him-
self was the first chief rabbi in
Britain to have done so.
Nevertheless, both Hertz and
Brodie were enthusiastic cham-
pions of Zionism at a time when
mainstream Orthodoxy was
closer to the Jakobovits -position.
While Hertz was often in trouble
for being "too Zionist," Jakobovits
has achieved the opposite.
Born in Koenigsberg, Ger-
many, in 1921, the author admits
that he was raised in a tradition
"distinctly lukewarm to Zionism."
The book shows how deeply this
colored his career, which has in-
cluded 10 years as chief rabbi of
Ireland (1948-1958); eight years
at New York's Fifth Avenue
Synagogue; and the past 17 years
as chief rabbi of the British Com-
monwealth, during which he has
In this book, he pays tribute to
Israel's positive influence on the
Diaspora. But he also seeks re-
peatedly to discredit and denig-
rate what he describes as "secular
Zionism" which he regards as a
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